In business, sometimes you need to lead, and sometimes you need to follow. Like singing harmony, it’s a balancing act of merging talents. And if someone doesn’t know or respect their role, nothing sounds right.
Why is that important for business?
Just like when you are singing, running a business involves asking yourself this question: “Is this a moment when I am the driver, or is this a case where I am a passenger?” Because everything gets harder when two or more people are trying to drive at the same time.
This can be especially apparent when one company buys another. Both parties need to understand that they must integrate the two cultures and philosophies into one to create a whole. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to march in lock step – singing harmony is distinct, not a copy. But you must match and merge and flow with each other in a way that isn’t distracting, and that doesn’t take away from the whole. Like in the Ted Talk about how to start a movement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V74AxCqOTvg), you need both leaders and followers, or nothing significant happens.
You don’t want 100 synchronizing voices; you need a combination of different pitches and tones, and at times, harmonizing requires some dissonance. But that dissonance has to resolve, and it cannot be a surprise. Dissonance has to be built into the process.
The problem isn’t necessarily with the lead or with the harmony; the problem is when any of the people involved aren’t focusing on the larger product. The problem to answer is: does this harmony create what you want to create? If roles are blurry, it may be leaving gaps in the end product, so the key is having the conversation, identifying who is playing which role, and then working together to create an even better result together.
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